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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:54 pm 
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* Moderator note: This thread has been split from the Astrotheology of the Ancients thread.

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Neil Godfrey's blog, Vridar, has some of the most interesting current discussion about the Christ Myth, notably Earl Doherty's detailed rebuttal of Ehrman. Neil has challenged me on several occasions regarding the evidentiary basis for astrotheology, which he sees as extremely weak. This week Neil posted on the biased attitudes of James McGrath, and I used it to comment on the general theme of bias in scholarship. To which Neil responded with a rather strident questioning of the scientific basis of astrotheology. He asked me to set out how I thought that astrotheology could be viewed as a scientific account of Christian origins, in terms of predictions it makes about what we should expect to find in the Biblical text. My response is as follows.

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Code:
http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/mcgrath-as-mcmuddled-as-ever-over-mythicism/#comment-36207


Neil Godfrey wrote:
5.“Hypotheses for mythicism or historicism can indeed make predictions and be tested. What would one expect to see in X if Y were true? That’s a prediction. It can be tested by looking at the evidence.”
“If you want to start a debate about something specific then do so here.”


Neil has asked me to comment here on how precession informed the Jesus story, so I am happy to oblige.

What would we expect to see if in fact the Christ Myth was based on actual observation of the cosmos? We would expect that mythic themes within Christianity correspond to mythic themes in ancient cosmology. Is this the case?

Yes. From more than a century before the time of Pilate, the Greek world was aware that the equinoxes were slowly precessing against the stars. Knowledge of precession is possibly far older in India, Babylon and Egypt. The equinoxes crossed from their previous locations in the constellations of Aries and Libra into the constellations of Pisces and Virgo in 21 AD, by modern astronomical calculation. At Easter/Passover, the sun and full moon had traditionally been opposite each other in Aries and Libra, but from the time assigned to Christ the Easter sun and moon were henceforth in Pisces and Virgo. This shift was readily observable to astronomers who were tasked to calculate the dates of such festivals as Passover based on close observation of the heavens.

Symbolically, Pisces and Virgo are represented by fishes and by the virgin or bread. Spica the main star of Virgo means ‘ear of wheat’. So, if a religion wished to mark this theme of loaves and fishes as a new cosmic alignment of the sun, how would it do so? The single miracle that appears in all four gospels is the feeding of the multitude. Seeing this story as a coded explanation of precession is supported by the texts in Mark 6 and 8 where Jesus looks up to heaven as a basis to perform the miracle, castigates the disciples for their failure to see the meaning, explains to the pharisees that this is not a sign, and uses numbers corresponding to sun and moon (two fish), five planets (five loaves), twelve months/signs (baskets of broken pieces), and visible stars (5000/4000 men).

Against a precessional gnostic cosmology, the loaves and fishes miracle is a parable for how creative abundance emerges from cosmic attunement – thy will be done on earth as in heaven. The precessional axis of Pisces/Virgo appears as a main central mystery of faith, in a miracle story that is otherwise largely inexplicable. Matthew 13:34 says “without a parable spake he not unto them”, indicating that such miracle stories as the loaves and fishes, indeed even the whole miracle of the incarnation, are allegories for a deeper natural truth. That deep truth is observation of the cosmos.

The zodiac begins with Aries in spring and ends with Pisces in winter. The shift of the spring equinox at the time of Christ was therefore a shift from first to last, from alpha to omega, in the roughly 24,000 year vision of twelve ages of the great year (what the Gnostics called the duodecad of the aeons). Is this natural observed turning point of time encoded in the story of Christ as would be expected from a precessional reading?

Yes it is. Apart from the BC/AD dating convention, we have the alpha and omega, the first and last, and the idea that an eternal truth of reason (logos) was manifest at a specific time. The ancients were well aware that only at the time assigned to Christ did the seasons match the stars, with the sun entering the constellation of Aries precisely at the equinox. So, this cosmic attunement in the natural cycle of the Great Year, as mapped by ancient cosmology, matches precisely to a claimed spiritual attunement in the story of Jesus as word made flesh.

What about Paul? Elaine Pagels argues that the line in Romans 1:14 “I am debtor both to Greeks and to foreigners, both to the wise and to the foolish” is allegory, with Greeks symbolising the Gnostics and the foreigners symbolising the ignorant. Paul presents his key idea of the shift of ages from the age of Moses to the age of Christ at Romans 6:14 “For you are not under law, but under grace.” Libra, the scales of justice, represents law, while Virgo, the virgin full of grace, represents grace. So Paul’s metaphysics matches precisely to the observed movement of the heavens with the autumn equinox sun and the spring equinox full moon moving over precessional time scales from Libra (law) into Virgo (grace) at the BC/AD turning point.

Biblical eschatology presents a strong case for being framed against the observation of precession as the natural marker of time, with the idea from Peter and Psalm 90 that a thousand years is as a day to God. Mapping this timeframe against the allegory of the seven days of creation, and the idea that Adam lived in 4000 BC, the imagined millennium as a sabbath of rest is placed from 2000 AD to 3000 AD, a scheme supported by Augustine and Irenaeus. So when Christ speaks at Matthew 24 of the end of the age as the time when the gospel of the kingdom will have been preached to the whole earth, it makes sense to assume this is based on a very long time frame, and that he is in fact speaking of the 2000 year long Age of Pisces, based on real observation of nature, with the stars as the slow moving hands of the clock marking time.

Revelation is the book with the most abundant precessional imagery, and indeed precession is a key to unlock the bizarre symbols of the apocalypse. The Holy City New Jerusalem coming down from heaven encodes several precessional images. The city is 12,000 units from side to side, matching the estimated 12,000 years from side to side of the Great Year. By old tradition, which scholars in the middle ages asserted was from old Babylonian texts, the twelve jewels of the foundations of the holy city symbolise the twelve signs in reverse from Pisces to Aries, directly matching the twelve ages of the Great Year starting from the time of Christ. The cosmic framework of the holy city becomes obvious when we see it contains the river of life and the tree of life, with the tree growing on both banks of the river, with twelve fruits one for each month. Trees do not grow on both sides of a river, and they do not have twelve different fruits. The only natural reality that directly fits this symbol is the zodiac as tree and galaxy as river, as the intersecting wheels of heaven.

The North Celestial Pole is the axis of stability around which the heavens revolve. Hippolytus explains Gnostic ideas about this. Observation of precession indicates that at the time of Christ, the celestial pole was shifting from the constellation of the dragon to the constellation of the bear, adjacent to the lion. Rev 13:2 provides a clearly encoded description of this cosmic observation, with the dragon giving power, throne and authority to the bear-lion-leopard. If we expected to see a description of knowledge of the movement of the pole, the throne of the sky, here we have it.

This cosmology of zodiac ages is directly encoded in the figure of Aion, the god of time worshipped in Mithraism. Aion has the head of a lion and body of a man, symbolising the zodiac axis from Leo to Aquarius, wrapped by six coils of a snake, one coil for each zodiac age, with the snake’s head at the lion’s brow. As in Augustinian eschatology, the Mithraic cosmology looks forward to the time when the equinox will move into Aquarius as a consummation of time.

There are many more related examples where themes expected from a precessional reading are in fact to be found as basic structural pillars of Biblical cosmology, such as the wheels within wheels described by Ezekiel and the allegories between Christ and the sun, such as light of the world. How and why this material has been suppressed and forgotten presents a fascinating topic in cultural history. Precession as a guiding theme for Biblical symbolism has capacity to shed great light on Christianity in terms of how its core messages have a coherent natural meaning.

Comment by Robert Tulip — 2012/09/14


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:54 am 
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Unsurprisingly, the only response so far to my comment above was along the lines of 'move along, nothing to see here', with a question as to whether it was induced by peyote. I responded as follows

Quixie, your comment illustrates how difficult it is for people who are not familiar with this material to understand it. Precession is really a fairly simple framework, seeing the stars as a slow clock for history. Once you comprehend the astronomical starting point the rest follows as a logical analysis of what the Biblical authors were saying. The orthodox dogmatists also found this basis of the Christ myth incomprehensible, which is why they suppressed it. Many people experience these ideas with some anxiety, as likely to wrench their mind out of its established track, so dismissive comments like yours are rather common.

Proto-Mark may have been far more astrological than the text we have, but its language would have been toned down to make it acceptable to a mass audience through a process of censorship. Only hints were retained, such as Jesus lambasting the disciples for failing to comprehend his original cosmic vision.

The entire concept of zodiac ages often gets wrongly condemned through guilt by association, even though it is a simple piece of astronomy. The astrology that usually goes with discussion of zodiac ages lacks evidence, but the point here is to understand and reconstruct what the biblical authors thought. The fact is, astrology was a big part of their world, and the references I have cited are actually there in the Bible. As with other Biblical texts that people find discomforting, the common tendency is to ignore these passages. The systematic elimination of this cosmic material from the main perspectives of faith and reason makes it hard for people to comprehend astrotheology as a legitimate scientific research agenda. So people often prefer cheap shots rather than engaging on content, in fear they might be convinced. And no, for the record I have never taken hallucinogens.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:08 am 
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Neil Godfrey has kindly engaged in a productive discussion

Code:
http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/mcgrath-as-mcmuddled-as-ever-over-mythicism/#comment-36274


My latest responses are as follows, leaving out some of the static produced by a troll. N is Neil Godfrey and R is me.

I am discussing completely new interpretations with which very few people are familiar. It is perfectly reasonable for me to assert others are not well informed regarding precession and its relation to the Bible. There are simple big questions over which there is no consensus, such as when the equinox precessed into Pisces, which could themselves be the topic of their own thread, were anyone interested. Many people regard the Age of Aquarius as nothing more than a counter culture movement from the 1960s. There is simple information which deserves to be put on the table for a serious discussion, not marginalised with mere derision.

Astrotheology does not seek to “explain away” Christian origins. Taking the analogy of the observation that humans are vertebrates, the fact is that physiology has to build on skeletal understanding. We cannot understand muscles and organs outside the skeletal framework of the body. The accurate cosmic framework provided by precession does indeed provide a skeleton around which the detailed explanation of Christian origins (eg Midrash, intercultural links, political agenda, order of composition) can be analysed and built. The skeleton of astronomy helps to explain (not explain away) and enrich findings from other disciplines.

Neil: “conspiracy theory””
R: The so-called conspiracy theory is the assertion that orthodox Christianity selectively accepted some arguments and rejected others. This is abundantly attested in the institutional process of formation of the canon, where Gnostic cosmic ideas were systematically rejected in favour of orthodox literalist ideas. The Nag Hammadi texts were only preserved from destruction by advancing legions by being buried in jars in the desert. All other copies of these texts were lost. You are using the fallacious argument of guilt by association, implying that analysis of real church coordination in suppression of heresy is analogous to fanciful conspiratorial claims. The Church Fathers themselves said all heretical texts should be burnt and systematically carried out this edict. Against this real historical context, it makes complete sense that if authors wished to preserve references to forbidden ideas, they would have to conceal them.

Neil: “begging the question”
R: Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which a proposition relies on an implicit premise within itself to establish the truth of that same proposition. That is not what I am doing. My hypothesis is that the gospel authors use observation of the stars as a blueprint for their theory of time, suggesting observed movement of the heavens is reflected in events on earth. This is an idea widely present in hermetic literature, and as I have shown above, provides a plausible explanation for biblical texts.

N: “selective referencing”
Rather than assuming that my references are selective, it would be more constructive to enquire how specific texts could fit against this cosmic framework.

N: “circular reasoning.”
R: The premise is the ‘as above so below’ cosmology. The evidence is the Bible texts that use this premise. That is not circular.

N: “importance of predictions and testing”
R: The hypothesis of embedding of precession as a framework for the Bible predicts that specific symbols will appear in concealed form in the text, such as the equinox stars, the celestial poles, and the twelve ages of the Great Year. I showed that these predictions are satisfied.

N:”addressing alternative hypotheses.”
R: Different inputs to the construction of a text can be complementary, not exclusive. I doubt you can point to coherent alternatives that exclude what I am saying and are not enriched by it. The alternatives I am aware of do not present plausible explanations for why these precessional themes are so central. But this hypothesis helps to explain the links to other religious practices of the time in which stellar motifs were strongly present. The use of precession as a temporal blueprint has high explanatory power. It is a claim that can be considered on its own terms, while recognising that of course there are other inputs to the Gospels such as midrash. The midrash was used to support the observational cosmology, and does not exclude the cosmology.

N: “nothing in the near-at-hand-evidence.”
R: The idea of a new age in the Common Era is widespread, for example in Virgil’s Eclogue 4, and in the extensive Gnostic discussion of the aeons, supported by the Mithraic example I gave. Virgil says “Now the last age by Cumae’s Sibyl sung has come and gone, and the majestic roll of circling centuries begins anew: Justice returns, returns old Saturn’s reign, With a new breed of men sent down from heaven. At the boy’s birth in whom the iron shall cease, the golden race arise, only do thou befriend him, chaste Lucina; ’tis thine own Apollo reigns.” http://classics.mit.edu/Virgil/eclogue.4.iv.html

Just as the heavens indicated a new age of the fishes, so too Christians saw a new age on earth in their secret sign of the fish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichthys

N: “questions of mine that you failed to respond to … about method”
R: My method here is entirely scientific and rigorous. I start with a hypothesis, and point to a range of texts in support of it, as a consistent, coherent and predictive explanation. There is nothing circular, question begging or selective in what I have said.

A star map of the equinox point in 21 AD is at http://rtulip.net/yahoo_site_admin/asse ... 32_std.gif
It is notable that this traditional depiction of the zodiac figures shows Aries the Ram pointing its foot to this point where the ecliptic crosses the line of stars making the first fish of Pisces, marking the equinox at the time of Christ. It takes more than 2000 years for equinox point, shown here as the intersection of the zodiac ecliptic (the yellow line) and the celestial equator (the white line) to move through one zodiac sign, hence the concept of zodiac ages, as known to the ancients.The equinox point is now near the spot marked 330 degrees on the yellow line, nearing the end of Pisces and approaching Aquarius.

Thanks again Neil for the opportunity to discuss this interesting topic.


Then my responses to further comments by Neil Godfrey

7.N: “Whoah! We are talking here about Christian origins. Not Church power politics generations down the track. What institutional fears did the author of the first gospel have to fear that led him supposedly to encode his message?”
R: The theme that the real identity of Jesus Christ was not recognized by those who encountered him pervades the Gospels, and goes back to the Isaiah statement that the man of sorrows would be despised and rejected. The mentality of suppression of esoteric ideas, especially those that present a natural theology, has strong roots in Old Testament Judaism. The idea that the stars provide a blueprint for the Christ Myth was just as unacceptable for public opinion in the early church as in later power politics.

And yet, the importance of natural theology is manifest from Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world..” What is this mysterious voice of the stars? Surely it can only be inferred by imaginng a terrestrial reflection of patterns visible in the slow movement if the sky? That is exactly what precession delivers as an explanation of the Christ myth, although one hidden for good reason.

The prologue of John has several verses that appear to describe Jesus Christ as analogy for the sun, which the actual light of the world. Interpolating sun for Christ gives the eminently sensible reading, “without the sun was not anything made that was made. In the sun was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not… The sun is the true Light, which lights every man who comes into the world. The sun was in the world, and the world was made by the sun, and the world knew the sun not.

Why, in implying that Jesus has these solar attributes of providing light and life for the world, is the author of the Fourth Gospel so oblique? We know he is speaking metaphysically, and therefore metaphorically. As mythicists have shown, there is no real evidence these ideas are based on a historical Jesus as founder. So who is this spiritual word, and how did the idea of Christ arise? The correspondence with the sun at least suggests that the writer developed his theory of Jesus in dialogue with solar religions, anthropomorphising an accurate natural story.

To understand why this metaphor of Christ as the sun is concealed, some points about the social context are important to note. One key text is Deuteronomy 4:19 “when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.” Judaism held to Mosaic monotheism. Christian roots in this old tradition meant that explicit description of Jesus as a symbol of the sun was impossible even in the early Gospel times. But this solar symbolism was at the source. And it helps to explain why precession was of such interest, since the precession of the equinoxes is all about the observed position of the sun against the background stars.

John tells us in 1:17 that “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Again, we see Paul’s trope of the essential change of age brought in Christ from Libra (law) to Virgo (grace).

N: “You say the idea was widely held in hermetic literature, but to interpret the Gospels on the assumption that this idea was also embedded in those gospels IS begging the question.”

R: The Lord’s Prayer expresses the hope that God’s will as done in heaven will also be done on earth, an idea best explained by reference to such texts as Psalm 19 discussed above. The Lord’s Prayer paraphrases the hermetic idea ‘as above so below’, which I argue provides a hidden organising principle for Biblical cosmology. Neil raises a legitimate question of method here. I have a scientific hypothesis that observation of the sun and stars provided the blueprint for the Christ myth. This hypothesis involves predictions about what we should expect to find in the symbolic descriptions of Christ in the Gospels. We do in fact find abundant support for a precessional cosmology in the Bible, but it is concealed for good reason, that the Bible speaks in parables because people could not cope with the truth. The authors were aiming for a mass audience, and tailored their text to this objective. There is no question begging, because the premise is not contained in the confirmatory examples.

N: “I can, if I wish, find arguments or evidence to support any theory I like.”

R: In science, theories are judged by their explanatory power. The hypothesis that Christianity is grounded in accurate observation of nature on the largest available scale helps to explain Christian success, and also explains the prominence of symbolic motifs that are otherwise mysterious. All the talk of ages in the Bible should be read as grounded in ancient observation of the actual cycles of time. The mandate of God is symbolised by the fish and the virgin, reflecting the observed shift of the position of the sun for a new age. This heuristic presents a coherent method to explain the mystery.

The idea that the new age brought by Jesus Christ is symbolised by the movement of the Easter stellar axis from the ram and scales to the fish and virgin involves a prediction that a similar symbolic shift occurred in the previous age shift, two thousand years earlier. The symbolic shift from the Age of Taurus to the Age of Aries in ~2000 BC does in fact find matching ideas, such as the condemnation of worship of the golden calf by Moses, and the use of ram symbolism to indicate the mandate of God, as in Joshua’s destruction of Jericho. As with the esoteric gnostic discussion of Moses and the snake at Numbers 21:8-9 (and its destruction at 2 Kings 18:4), the story of the golden calf has an esoteric cosmic meaning, available to initiates but invisible to the ignorant.

N: “I recall in your original post that 5000 and 4000 represent the numbers of visible stars. What is your evidence for that?”

R: Context. This miracle is allegory for something, otherwise it would not have been retained six times in the Gospels as such a core story. Jesus did not actually produce something from nothing. Loaves and fishes are presented as symbols of cosmic abundance. Mark 8 explains as follows, with my commentary interpolated.

Mark 8:12 He sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Most assuredly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” [This statement comes immediately after Jesus has supposedly performed a major public miracle. Mark indicates here that the loaves and fishes story is not a sign or miracle, inviting interpretation of it as allegory] 8:13 He left them, and again entering into the boat, departed to the other side. 8:14 They forgot to take bread [failed to understand the message of cosmic abundance through seeing bread as allegory for Virgo]; and they didn’t have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 8:15 He charged them, saying, “Take heed: beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” [Understand that degraded materialistic interpretation of the symbolism is incorrect.] 8:16 They reasoned with one another, saying, “It’s because we have no bread.” [They sought to understand the esoteric mystery in terms they could comprehend] 8:17 Jesus, perceiving it, said to them, “Why do you reason that it’s because you have no bread? Don’t you perceive yet, neither understand? Is your heart still hardened? 8:18 Having eyes, don’t you see? Having ears, don’t you hear? Don’t you remember? [The story originated as an archetypal symbol of the observed shift of the cosmic ages. But hardness of heart and refusal to engage with this big mystery led to misinterpretation of the allegory as actual miracle.] 8:19 When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They told him, “Twelve.” 8:20 “When the seven loaves fed the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They told him, “Seven.” [As in the two creation stories in Genesis, there are two versions of the loaves and fishes story, one referencing the twelve signs of the zodiac, the other referencing the sun and moon and five visible planets.] 8:21 He asked them, “Don’t you understand, yet?” [Mark pleads with readers to look behind the surface text to explain its symbolic meaning.]

Reference to the multitude of stars is found in Deuteronomy 1:10, 10:22 and 28:62, and in Hebrews 11:12. Given that the rest of the parable uses numbers with apparent cosmic reference, this allegory of a multitude makes sense as coded reference to this central old idea of stars.

N:”I always thought that there were only about 2000 stars visible to the naked eye.”

R: There are about 6000 visible stars above 6 magnitude. Uranus has magnitude about 5.9, putting it at the limit of observation. So four or five thousand is a good rough estimate. It depends on location. Closer to the equator, with clear skies, for example in Southern Egypt, you can see far more stars than in Europe, including all the northern stars and more of the southerly ones. Perhaps the 2000 estimate is another piece of the arrogance of Europe, assuming its own limited northern perspective was universal.

N: “And what of the 7 baskets gathered up? Are we to imagine that the numbers already listed in terms of fish and bread get a double count? ”

R: I’ve addressed this above in comparing to the contradictory Genesis creation stories.

N: “We can all accept a general understanding of “as above so below” among ancient cultures. But to argue that this particular framework is applied to references to fish in the gospels — that is, to argue that fish in the gospels represents Pisces in the heavens — needs to be argued, not assumed. Fish had many metaphorical connotations throughout the Biblical texts. Do we assume that they always pointed to Pisces in the sky?”

R: Any such symbol that keys in to subsistence identity as fish does will have multiple meanings. So no, I would not assert a priori that all fish references are about Pisces. They have to be considered on a case by case basis. In this miracle, the association with loaves matches to the emerging cosmic axis of the new age of Pisces. Other fish references do have intriguing possibilities. For example, the 153 fish caught in the net on the advice of Christ at John 21 suggest a reference to the esoteric topic of sacred geometry, since Archimedes had estimated the width of the mandorla (Vesica Piscis) at 153/265. (Ask if you want detail). Overall, fish references that link to a new age in Christ are enriched by explanation against the as above so below cosmology of precession.

N: “von Daniken”

R: There are in fact big mysteries, such as the construction of the pyramids. Any speculation on such topics needs to be very robust while recognising we simply don’t know the definitive story. As I recall, Von Daniken has been shown to have made some mistakes. But that is a side issue; here we see there are numerous mysterious symbols in the Bible which appear to make no scientific sense, but can be explained as part of a coherent observation of precession in ancient terms, explaining the myth of the incarnation as a reflection of what could be seen happening at the same time in the sky.

N: “A prediction needs to be clearly tied to the hypothesis proposed. If what is predicted can have a multitude of explanations within the frameworks of existing understandings, then it is hardly a “test” prediction.”

R: What about the example I gave of the river of life as the galaxy and the tree of life as the zodiac? This has no obvious sensible alternative explanation. And, this cosmic symbolism keys into a clear link to the holy city as metaphor for the visible heavens, within the view that fallen alienated human society was incapable of looking at reality in a way that connects us to what is actually there. There are other texts in Revelation that are not well known but which support this cosmology. For example Revelation 11:18 says the wrath of God will be directed against those who destroy the earth, an idea hardly in keeping with rapture traditions.

N: “But if those “complementary” inputs are sufficient to explain the texts — and I believe they are — then why add more hypotheses? Remember Mr Occam.”

R: My claims here are entirely driven by the scientific principles of parsimony and elegance encapsulated in Occam’s Razor. The Biblical ideas I have discussed here do not have better explanations. Consider the view of the Jesus seminar on the loaves and fishes – they suggested taking Jefferson’s razor to it, even though its six appearances testify to its original importance. The alternatives tend to suggest the Bible was either literally inspired or crazy. I am saying it makes good scientific sense, but its message is hidden.

N: Virgil was speaking of the new age at the end of a century of civil war. The new age was ushered in by the new political order under Augustus. That is the clear message and context of his works.

R: That is an interesting sidebar. Virgil also said the south celestial pole is the realm of the dead, indicating a stronger cosmic interest than you imply. His reference to Hesiod’s old ideas about the Golden Age of Saturn indicates a longer time frame and a transformative hope.

N: When is the earliest evidence that Christians represented their age by a fish? What is this evidence? Is any reference to a fish in a Christian text to be interpreted as the sign of a new age? It is much simpler to take the first Christian metaphors of fish (Mark’s Gospel) from Jeremiah and other OT texts on which they were developing their new ideas.

R: The Dendera zodiac, a relief allegedly dating to ca. 50 BC, is said to be the first known depiction of the classical zodiac of twelve signs. The tangential reference at Jeremiah 16:16 “I will send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD” hardly explains the central place acquired by the fish symbol in Christianity, such as the Ichthys acrostic used in the Sybilline Oracle 8. As you know, dating of early Christian texts is murky. I have argued the fragments indicate systematic concealment of a driving oral tradition.

Some assert the concept of zodiac ages is modern, primarily promulgated by Carl Jung and theosophists. But if public discussion of this topic in earlier times could result in condemnation for heresy, it is hardly surprising that the traces are hidden. One excellent example is the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, who used the zodiac stars as his template for the twelve disciples, and Pisces for Jesus Christ. His Baptism of Christ models Christ on Pisces and John on Aquarius. But Leonardo was extremely secretive in view of the suppressive attitude of the inquisition, although he does refer to the as above so below cosmology of Hermes the Philosopher in his extant notebooks.

N: “Who drew that image with the hoof at that point? When? What sort of argument is this about the Gospels and letters of Paul?”
http://rtulip.net/yahoo_site_admin/asse ... 32_std.gif

R: I made this diagram using the astronomy software Skygazer 4.5. Anyone can replicate it for free by downloading the software, setting the date to 21 AD and using the setting for traditional constellation figures. The software does not provide information on its source for the figures.

The lamb symbolism in the New Testament is somewhat ambiguous against a precessional reading. 1 Cor 5:7 says “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” Then see Rev 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22. As first and last, it makes sense to consider Christ’s eternal identity as marking both the age leading up to the turning point of the Great Year (the lamb) and the subsequent age (fish).

The relevance of this diagram is primarily that it shows the equinox point crossed the line connecting the stars of the first fish of Pisces during the rule of Pilate, a fact readily calculable for ancient astronomers. Whoever drew the ram with its hoof pointing to this exact spot was illustrating a conventional view that this spot marks the boundary between the constellations, which matched the signs of the tropical zodiac only at that time. Before Christ, the equinox point was still in the ram’s hoof, and since Christ it has travelled right across Pisces. So this drawing matches to the idea that the shift of ages from Aries to Pisces occurred at the time of Christ, and not before or later.

Comment by Robert Tulip — 2012/09/16


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:18 am 
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I would really welcome any comment on this exchange. Neil Godfrey has now responded to say "I can see nothing I have said registers with you and we will only be going around in circles so I will leave you with this last word."

I find this an astounding comment, as the analysis I have presented responds directly to his questions and provides a coherent explanation of how precession informed Biblical cosmology. I can only assume that Neil suffers from a psychological blockage that blinds him to simple logic. It is a real shame, but it illustrates the difficulty of formulating a coherent mythicist hypothesis. It seems his loss of faith has led him to an attitude that restricts the horizon of permissible evidence to exclude the big questions of the motivating paradigm of the construction of the Christ myth. That gives him a strong ability to analyse Biblical texts against a scientific framework, except when it comes to placing this framework within the real context of ancient mythmaking. I have a lot of respect for Neil, but his restriction of this discussion to the comments section of a blog on a different topic illustrated how he approached it with strong preconceptions.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:46 pm 
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Oh, brother. Neil's shallow, conceited and cliche dismissals based on ignorance are hardly worth responding to, but I appreciate your efforts. I'm afraid I can't follow your lengthy discussion at this time, as it would require a great deal of time. Like I say, his dismissals are beyond disappointing, they are pathetic. If he wishes to remain in such stark ignorance about the religion and mythology of antiquity, that is his choice, but he should not make pretenses at expertise when he is clearly merely sticking his fingers in his ears and saying, "Nyah, nyah, nyah. I can't hear you." I must say, therefore, that your summary here is accurate: "I can only assume that Neil suffers from a psychological blockage that blinds him to simple logic."

In any event, you are to be commended for your patience. It may be time to move on to more fertile fields, since you are clearly wasting time with someone who has no interests beyond the end of his own nose. His ignorance of this fascinating data dating back thousands of years is his own issue, and we will continue to study what remains some of the most important information mankind possesses. The individuals willfully blocking out humanity's grand past definitely have their own psychological issues, but their mental problems will not stop me from continuing to dig up and share what I find.

I don't know what else to say. I have little respect for those possessed of such willful ignorance and pretentiousness. In the end, they are wrong in their perceptions and are holding us back from the truth. They are also obviously bigoted against this information, the ancients, my work and me personally. As the great Barbara G. Walker told me, "Such people are beneath your notice."

Don't waste too much more time on Neil, as he is appears to be just another disappointingly ignorant and close-minded bigot - they are a dime a dozen in this field, whether believers or unbelievers. Let us not forget what intelligent people with integrity who have actually read my work have stated, as below. Ignoring this information is Neil's problem and loss, not ours. Because it is based in facts and truths that go back to humanity's remotest ages, what I am sharing will endure, while the mindless bickering over the gospel tales will not have much of an impact on its own, and most individuals engaged in it will not be recalled down the road. But, perhaps you planted a seed where he will actually look more closely at the esoteric meanings of various themes, rather than sharing in flatminded literalism with the Christian believers.

Quote:
"Your scholarship is relentless! ...the research conducted by D.M. Murdock concerning the myth of Jesus Christ is certainly both valuable and worthy of consideration." —Dr. Kenneth L. Feder, Professor of Archaeology, Central Connecticut State University, Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience In Archaeology

"I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock... I find it undeniable that...many, many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations..." —Dr. Robert M. Price, The Pre-Nicene New Testament

"I can recommend your work whole-heartedly!" —Dr. Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus and The New Testament Code, RobertEisenman.com

"Well-referenced, with numerous quotations from renowned Egyptologists and classical scholars, Acharya's penetrating research clearly lays out the very ancient pre-Christian basis of modern Christianity. Those who espouse Christianity beware! After digesting the evidence, you will never again view your religion in the same light." —Dr. Robert M. Schoch, Professor of Natural Science College of General Studies at Boston University; Author, Pyramid Quest, Voyages of the Pyramid Builders and Voices of the Rocks

"Acharya S deserves to be recognized as a leading researcher and an expert in the field of comparative mythology, on a par with James Frazer or Robert Graves—indeed, superior to those forerunners in the frankness of her conclusions and the volume of her evidence." —Barbara Walker, The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets and Man Made God

"I've known people with triple Ph.D's who haven't come close to the scholarship in Who Was Jesus?" —Pastor David Bruce, M.Div, North Park Seminary, Chicago, HollywoodJesus.com

"Thirty years ago, when in divinity school, I might have had second thoughts about becoming an Episcopal priest if a book like D. M. Murdock's Who Was Jesus? had been available to me." —Bob Semes, Retired university professor of History and Religion, Founder and Executive Director of The Jefferson Center

"In addition to presenting in Suns of God the troubling history of religious wars in an easily followed narrative, Acharya goes a step further, explaining as only she can how a once-simplistic idea has been carried into our modern world with terrible and nearly unimaginable results." —Rev. Dr. W. Sumner Davis, Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society; Member, American Geophysical Union; Affiliate, New York Academy of Science

"Ms. Murdock is one of only a tiny number of scholars with the richly diverse academic background (and the necessary courage) to adequately address the question of whether Jesus Christ truly existed as a walking-talking figure in first-century Palestine." —David Mills, Atheist Universe

"Thank you, Acharya, for the important work you are doing. Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of the Christ just might be the best short introduction to Biblical scholarship yet." —David Bergland, 1984 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate, Libertarianism In One Lesson

"...I have found her scholarship, research, knowledge of the original languages, and creative linkages to be breathtaking and highly stimulating." —Rev. Dr. Jon Burnham, Pastor, Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX

"Acharya S has done a superb job in bringing together the rich panoply of ancient world mythology and culture, and presenting it in a comprehensive and compelling fashion." —Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle

"Acharya S is a shining light of truth in a sea of deceit." —Rob McConnell, X Zone Radio/TV, Ontario, Canada

"The Christ Conspiracy—very, very scholarly and wholly researched—is a book for today..." Rev. B. Strauss, ex-Catholic Priest, Chicago, IL

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:28 pm 
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Having just skimmed through several comments there's just too much to have to go though. It appears that Neil Godfrey has the typical knee-jerk reaction to anything that might be related to Acharya's work - Neil's well is poisoned (as in the 'poisoning the well' fallacy). I read his comment where he said that he's tried to read her work but can't even make it through a single page - adding that he's read several pages but couldn't make through a single complete page. Perhaps Richard Carrier has gotten to him too, like he has so many others, telling people not to openly discuss anything by Acharya as an attempt to censor or suppress her work as revealed in comments by John Loftus.

Neil reminds me of Richard Dawkins here in the sense that he's quick with hand-waving dismissals, yet turtle slow to study the subject with any objectivity. It's really disappointing because Neil has some really interesting blogs on mythicism:

Richard Dawkins on Zeitgeist, Part 1

Remind Neil of Dr. Price's review of Christ in Egypt:

Quote:
"I find it undeniable that many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations."

"I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock"

- Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D's; CIE book review

Perhaps this link would spark Neil's interest?:

Astrotheology of the Ancients

Maybe precession is too big a subject for him to consider right now; getting through to him may require a less taxing subject to start off with?

We need to organize a course that starts with cases that are easier to explain, prove and understand. In my experience, we need to explain things at an almost elementary level. Here, at this forum, we end up having to break things down to nearly an elementary level because people are so un-informed on this subject and it's no different for many "scholars" like Ehrman, Forbes etc.

Acharya has spent over a decade having to explain many points from her first book by breaking them down to an almost elementary level for people to grasp the concepts when she'd prefer to move forward. This is another reason why she has to come out with a 2nd edition to her first book. She thought more people knew about this stuff or were more capable of researching it when she wrote that first book and she thought people would at least make an attempt to be more objective in this present day.

Challenge Neil to post the mythicist position video and article links for a blog to openly discuss it and try to get other mythicists like Dr. Robert Price, Earl Doherty and others to chime in. I saw a comment in another of Neil's blogs that basically suggested the same thing and it sounds like a fantastic idea. It's a major disappointment that more aren't talking about it - of course, it seems like there's an effort to censor or suppress it. If Neil refuses to post a blog discussing Acharya's mythicist position video and articles, I'd like to hear why, what's he afraid of? If Neil refuses it appears to be out of pure biases and a severe lack of objectivity. Surely Neil could agree with much of the video and articles and what he disagrees with can be openly discussed but, to censor or suppress it is disturbing; especially for someone who purports to be interested in the mythicist position as per the many blogs Neil has created on the topic of mythicism.

We as mythicists do need to organize a comprehensive and consistent position that most mythicists can stand behind and Acharya's mythicist position certainly should be a significant, if not a foundational plank of that.

If Neil has some good input on that it would be great. Everybody else only addresses Jesus or Christianity specifically while Acharya's mythicist position addresses most religion across the board. If there's something that Dr. Price & Doherty feel should be added to Acharya's MP then, they should speak up and start that discussion. We need mythicists to unite and stick together if we really want to win. I'd love to see a mythicist project. We need a department of astrotheological studies.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:56 pm 
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Neil Godfrey is a capable scholar, but he is obviously dismissive towards things he does not understand or that have a subtext he finds uncomfortable for whatever reason. Earl Doherty has published his detailed rebuttal of Ehrman at Vridar, so Neil is obviously highly regarded. Exploring the reasons for his hostility to astrotheology can potentially engage with a wide audience.

Here is my latest comment

Quixie said "Your whole theory is so ad hoc and indefensible (at least from a historiographical standpoint)"

This comment warrants response. The historiographical fit of the precession hypothesis as the ideational basis of the Christ Myth is strong. One of the best analyses of this topic is The Jesus Mysteries: Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God? by Freke and Gandy. My review is at http://www.amazon.com/review/R2UVE1IPRUQIXA Earl Doherty was very complimentary, saying ""You've captured the essence of Freke and Gandy's book in a beautifully written review. I hope it gets some attention. Best wishes, Earl Doherty"

I have noticed that this line of work elicits hysterical reaction, where the logic and evidence is ignored in favour of bigoted slurs. We see this especially from Ehrman, but also from Carrier, both of whom condemn The Jesus Mysteries without analysis or engagement. There are psychological blockages to this area of scholarship, perhaps because it touches on deep questions regarding the meaning of religious ideas.

An extract from my review is as follows:

The question here turns on the most plausible explanation for the rise of Christian faith. Freke and Gandy argue there was originally an inner church that only revealed part of its secret teachings to the public outer church. The ignorant masses called for signs and wonders before they would take any interest in new ideas. The early church serviced this mass demand for a new wondrous religion with the allegorical story of a historical messiah. The aim was to attract members to the cult, so secret mysteries could then be revealed to initiates. The Gospels as we have them were written for the outer church, as a simplified and `dumbed-down' historicized account of the inner spiritual myth.

As Christianity spread, Freke and Gandy argue the outer church took on a life of its own, gradually losing contact with the secret mysteries. The `orthodox' soon found a source of temporal power in denial of the inner church teaching that the story of Christ was a cosmic myth. By allying with the ignorant, the Church Fathers isolated and suppressed the cosmic mysticism of the old inner church, which they branded as Gnostic heresy. In an ironic parallel with the purging of the Old Bolsheviks by Stalin, control of institutional power became a more decisive criterion for influence than spiritual purity. As Orwell said in 1984, ignorance is strength.

The mystics had taught that salvation comes from within the heart, but the Literal church needed a belief system that placed no burdens on a mass audience. They insisted that salvation is objective, resulting from belief in the once-for-all atoning blood of the suffering messiah.

And yet, despite these efforts to simplify the message, some of the mystic material still found its way into the Bible.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:04 pm 
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Neil Godfrey is a capable scholar, but he is obviously dismissive towards things he does not understand or that have a subtext he finds uncomfortable for whatever reason. Earl Doherty has published his detailed rebuttal of Ehrman at Vridar, so Neil is obviously highly regarded. Exploring the reasons for his hostility to astrotheology can potentially engage with a wide audience....

Agreed.

Spot-on once again Robert.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:49 pm 
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It is simply absurd that we are supposed to perceive Jesus as a myth but not to investigate where those myths come from. Were they just made up out of whole cloth with no meaning whatsoever? Ludicrous and unacceptable.

I don't consider anyone to be a "capable scholar" who does not even study the subject he pretends to know. He doesn't know my work, but he pretends he does, making ridiculous claims about not even being able to read a single page. Which page was that? But thanks for admitting that you don't know my work while pretending to be an expert on it.

Thanks also for the insulting attitude towards all those who HAVE read my work, including numerous scholars and respectable individuals such as Earl Doherty himself. Is Neil saying Doherty's a bizarre fool for having actually read my work to a certain extent and then endorsed it? Ditto with Robert Price - an imbecile who can't judge good scholarship for himself? Bob Eisenman - another fool who mindlessly endorses irrelevant crap? Ken Feder, who read Christ in Egypt and was blown away? He's an idiot too?

Neil's 'tude is simply insulting, not only to me but also to all those people above, as well as all the rest who have read my work, including numerous pastors, priests and New Testament scholars behind the scenes. I am far more interested in the opinions of these erudite individuals who actually have read my work than the opinions of someone who has such irrational prejudices.

Perhaps you could pass along my review of Earl Doherty's book? If Neil is unable to read even that well-received review, simply because I wrote it, even though it's favorable towards one of his favorite authors, then we know he clearly has an irrational and biased response towards me with no foundation in reality, which greatly lessens his credibility.

An outstanding opus by an erudite expert

My review currently has 186 out 195 votes - very few reviews on Amazon in our genre receive so many votes.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:48 am 
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Neil's dismissive attitude does stink of some Carrier influence if you ask me.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:30 am 
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I think Acharya is right about Neil Godfrey. I've been trying hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I like his work, but he has now displayed some rather blatant prejudice and ignorance. Here is my latest comment in response to Neil calling Elaine Pagels tedious, claiming the ancients could not see the galaxy, suggesting any reference to Vedic myth or the orbital science of precession is "troppo" and comparing astrotheology to Chariots of the Gods.

Robert Tulip wrote:
17.Okay, with Elaine Pagels, you “found her book tedious after the first few pages because it was repeating over and over the same baseless argument from speculation” and that does not mean she is tedious. I’m happy to retract my misunderstanding. [Neil called me 'mischievous' for suggesting he called Pagels tedious.]

I’ve found this a valuable discussion to illustrate the strength of resistance to my views and how I need to present them in a very simple and logical way. I’m not sure how much further back and forth in comments will add. But I do want to respond to your comments on the galaxy, the yuga, climate science and other speculative ideas.

Neil said: “He speaks of “galaxy as river”. But what galaxy was that that was visible to the author? I have a hard time visualizing John’s image in the cosmic reality Robert wants me to match it against. But even if I could, so what?”

R: If you look at the sky, as Job recommends,* you will see the Milky Way coursing across it like a river. That is our galaxy, and was well known to the ancients. It appears to form a circle around the earth. It intersects with another circle, the zodiac, which forms the path of the planets. These two circles (wheels within wheels) are angled at 60 degrees to each other, like the letter Chi (X) described by Plato in the Timaeus as the circles of the same and the different. For six months the sun is on one side of the Milky Way, and for six months it is on the other side. So when John says in Rev 22 that the tree of life has twelve kinds of fruit, one for each month, and grows on both sides of the crystal river of life, it matches precisely to the relation between the zodiac and the galaxy, as observed in the sky. John says these symbols are at the centre of the holy city.
* [I had said 'when Job says at 35:5 “Look to the heavens, and see. See the skies, which are higher than you,” we should take this as a practical instruction, and should read supporting texts as allegory for what this process will reveal.' Neil described this reference to Job as 'like an evangelist', after calling my comments comical and parallelomania]

Neil said: “your talking about Vedic Days of Brahma and glaciation cycles is just going troppo”

R: The Vedic sky God Dyaus Pita links etymologically to Zeus Patera, Jupiter and Deus Pater, in English God the Father. The Vedic Agastya is Argo and Noah’s Ark. There are strong ancient cultural linkages between the Middle East and India. The conventional estimate of the Platonic Month is 2160 years, so two months/ages make 4320 years. The encoding of this number into the Vedic Yuga cycle of light and dark matches not only to precession, but also to the actual climate cycles of light and dark driven by precession. Precession is central to the orbital drivers of climate science as described in Milankovitch cycles. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

My view on this is that ancient astronomy was far more advanced than we recognise, but cultural upheavel led to the scientific basis being lost, and only retained in fragments. The challenge is to piece the extant fragments into a coherent explanation.

Perhaps what you mean by talking about Chariots of the Gods* is that I refuse to simply accept baseless mainstream claims such as that the Great Pyramid was a tomb. People rule out such topics a priori, but that locks them in to an inadequate appreciation of the difficulty in coming to grips with how human culture developed. I would not endorse von Daniken any more than I would Velikovsky, Hubbard or Joseph Smith. All these myth makers need to have their ideas tested against evidence.
*[Neil said "You are following the same fallacious methods as did Erich von Daniken."]


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:14 pm 
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What Galaxy?

Come on. Really Neil?

I think you were pretty clear all along that Revelation is using "Milky Way" mythology, something very common in the ancient world and visible to all...

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:59 pm 
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Neil Godfrey is an interesting person. He writes prolifically, and when he sticks to topics he understands he is astute and informative. Unfortunately he does not understand astrotheology.

Neil explains his background at
Code:
http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-little-biographical-footnote/
- extract below. He says astrotheology reminds him of his fundamentalist cult experience, trying to attract people through deception. This is a completely misinformed interpretation of astrotheology, which is simply the attempt to develop a scientific understanding of ancient religion by examining the extensive evidence of cosmic motifs. But Neil seems to believe that any findings which he perceives as a challenge to the modern scientific consensus - such as on how Christianity evolved out of stellar myths - are a dangerous intrusion of mysticism into logic.

Religion touches on deep psychological feelings, especially for people like Neil who have had wounding experience with crazy cults. Neil told me his radar can detect a cult a mile off. What that seems to mean is that if he forms a vague impression that something resembles the bad experience of his youth (see quote below) then he will attack it and refuse to engage in rational dialogue to find out if his first impression is accurate. I find all of this rather incomprehensible, as I have never had any contact or sympathy with any cult. Astrotheology is not a cult, because it applies the scientific method of contestability of evidence. It is just a shame that some people like Neil (let alone the fundies) get hysterical when the evidence challenges their prejudices.

Neil Godfrey wrote:
my formative religious years were in a relatively liberal (we were allowed to play cards and dance) Methodist church. I did opt to spend too many years in a religious cult but was eventually renounced by that cult. My sin was that I was always seeking to understand and question a little more deeply — no problem with that so long as it is kept private — and that this eventually led me to compile a bibliography that I posted (snail mail) to multiple scores of fellow cult members. That bibliography was a list of sources that members could turn to in order to learn “the other side of the story” about our cult.

You see, members are protected from information that helps them understand the full story of what they are a part of. I made it possible for many to locate that information if they so wished. For my efforts I am proud to say that I was publicly denounced from pulpits throughout Australia as being “in the bond of Satan”. I am told that members were instructed to burn any letters from me or hand them in to the ministry unopened. So what did I turn to?

Support group. After my departure I decided to try to turn my lost years into something positive. I placed a small advertisement in the local paper inviting anyone else who had been a cult member to join me in some sort of informal “talk-it-through” “support group”. I had read much about cults, the psychology employed, the experiences common to so many of them, and found some very helpful professional literature that offered guidance on rebuilding one’s life after the experience. A small group of us came together from various backgrounds — most of them were ex-Mormons (though one turned out to be still regularly attending the Mormon church). What was therapeutic for us, I think, was coming to see that not one of us was alone, that our experiences were not unique. That was an important step to regaining self-respect and a clearer understanding of what we had been through.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:42 pm 
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I admit that in my transition phase between theism and atheism, I was into the ancient astronaut bit. I never actually bothered debunking it when I learned some critical thinking skills, I really just lost interest and abandoned it. Then when the HC show became all the rage, I caught a few episodes and some segments renewed my interest, but then they'd always go too far and overstate their case, having that guy with the Dragon Ball Z hair-do always emphatically state that there can be NO other possible explanation for the data other than alien intervention. Then they completely put me off when I saw part of an episode that was arguing that chimera animals and other cryptozoological legends were genetic tampering from aliens. In particular, the point I finally facepalmed and said "No, just no" was when they argued that this was what the zoomorphic forms of the Egyptian gods were. They'd show pictures of Anubis or Horus and argue that aliens combined human dna with dog or falcon dna. Knowing what I do now about Egyptian mythology, there is a naturalistic allegorical explanation for pretty much EVERY zoomorphic form we find in Egyptian art.

Anubis was a god of death and mummification. He also had the head of a jackal. The reason for this is because the Egyptians observed that, as scavengers, jackals feasted on dead bodies and so they were constantly found at graveyards trying to dig up a meal. Hence the jackal became a symbol of graves and of death.
It's as simple as that.

Horus and Re were sun gods, they were given raptor forms because raptors fly high in the sky, closer to the sun than any other animal, and they traverse the sky like the sun as well.
Simple as that.

Khepri, the winged scarab, was the form of the morning sun god because the scarab beetles were a symbol of rebirth for the Egyptians since they lay their eggs in dead matter- be it dung balls, rotting corpses, or even the carcasses of other dead scarab beetles. Hence when the eggs hatched and the infants emerged, it looked like the deceased corpse had been reborn into scarabs. Since scarabs also pushed dung across the land until it rolled up into a ball, it looked like they were pushing the sun across the horizon, hence that became a classic symbol for the rebirth of the sun at dawn- the winged scarab pushing the sun up past the horizon and into the sky.
Simple as that.

Serpents shed their skin in whole form leaving behind what looked like a dead carcass, and thus it looked like they were being reborn, hence the serpent was also a symbol of rebirth.

Baboons were known to howl and yelp when the sun rose early in the morning, similar to how roosters crow at sunrise, hence baboons were thought to worship the sun and thereafter became a figure commonly depicted with the sun in Egyptian art, and why Thoth is sometimes depicted with a baboon head.

Bovine horns resembled the crescent moon in the sky, hence several of the sky goddesses such as Nut and Hathor were given bovine horns.
That's it.
They weren't humans who were crossbred with bovine in a spaceship laboratory.

Anyway, just had to let that out. Back to the discussion.

With as much as Neil acknowledges the influence of Platonism, Gnosticism, and the mystery cults upon the development of Christianity, it is certainly puzzling that he appears ignorant of the astrotheological heritage of Christianity as well, since all of the above also included it. From Plato referring to the sun as the image and offspring of the Form of the Good (sounds very Johannine) to the Gnostic texts likening angels to stars to the various Greek and Latin writers who affirmed that the gods of the mystery cults, and of paganism in general, were metaphors for natural phenomenon in the skies, such as Plutarch explaining that the dismemberment and reconstitution of Osiris into 14 pieces is parallel to the 14 days in which the full moon is "dismembered" into the new moon.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:08 am 
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Comments from Rene Salm and Earl Doherty (Jesus Mysteries Yahoo Group)

Note especially Rene’s remark “The entire record of Bronze-Iron Age religion is suffused with astrotheology. Who's denying it?”

On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM, Robert <rtulip2005@wrote:
Dear Rene,
I'd like to comment on the American Atheist statement you quoted, "archaeological and historical claims should be rejected unhesitatingly unless such claims are supported by solid empirical evidence."

On the face of it this AA principle is perfectly reasonable and sound historiographical methodology. What concerns me though is its exclusion of speculative discussion. I have been debating astrotheology with Neil Godfrey at his blog, and Neil effectively applies the AA principle to reject my ideas. My concern is the phrase "rejected unhesitatingly." This is too strong a statement in my view. It can mean an assumption that anything that cannot be empirically proved is false - an idea that Richard Carrier almost elevates to the level of a spiritual axiom.

So, if we speculate that Christianity evolved from Gnosticism, or that the cosmic principle as above so below was an organising theme for the early Christ Myth, the atheists will say this historical claim should be rejected unhesitatingly unless it is supported by solid empirical evidence. The atheist principle of critique is sound when dealing with supernatural tradition, but is too harsh a standard when dealing with possible hypotheses about the evolution of Christianity.

When much of the relevant evidence was deliberately destroyed to conceal it, how can we hope to reverse engineer the big themes of the construction process for Christianity if we only accept solid evidence?

Surely there is space for more discussion around the merely possible, in the effort to find a coherent story that pieces together fragmentary evidence?

Thanks for the Nazareth update. Good luck.

Regards
Robert Tulip

--- In JesusMysteries@yahoogroups.com, Earl Doherty <earldoherty@wrote:

I would have to second Robert on this. A great deal of mythicist research could be said to lack "solid empirical evidence" (such as regarding the debate over the existence of Q), yet there are other ways of arriving at supportable probabilities and conclusions which the open-minded can accept.

In parallel with Rene's suggestion about planting evidence, historicists would certainly be justified in regarding with suspicion any mythicist scholar's "report" that he had unearthed a lost letter by Paul spelling out that his Christ had never been on earth. (Of course, we already have that in the epistle to the Hebrews! :-) )

Earl
--- In JesusMysteries@yahoogroups.com, "rsalm2002" <rjs@...wrote:
Robert, Earl:
Well, I can't second guess the board of AA. But I don't think there is much to fear from those who insist upon "empirical evidence." Man's religion is abundantly manifest in his works--art, literature, scripture. . . And, thankfully, these latter constitute "empirical evidence."

If an aspect of religion (e.g. "Q") cannot be demonstrated empirically, then I think it's fully legitimate to question its historicity (as I do). This doesn't mean that Q didn't exist--just that its historicity remains a legitimate (and open) question. We must keep an open mind until empirical evidence is at hand.

Regarding astrotheology, I don't see any problem, Robert. The entire record of Bronze-Iron Age religion is suffused with astrotheology. Who's denying it? Insisting upon empirical evidence in this regard is asking for the obvious. It's in the literary and epigraphic record (especially cuneiform texts and bullae/seal impressions).

So, you are on firm ground, as also is Earl's major thesis--and on empirical grounds, too. I have full confidence that as we continue investigating the texts it will become ever more clear: Jesus was an idea, not a man.

Rene


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